Season of Action

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

It’s the Season of Action

Pick one thing that works toward reducing and ending homelessness, and do it!

With Spring entering the atmosphere (to be very quickly followed by Phoenix Summer), adapting, planning, closing out, and looking ahead. It’s the time of year to wrap up audits, compile calendar year data, and assess for the next fiscal year starting July 1. Like the swirling, increasing pollens in the air, there are a lot of moving parts that wax and wane with seasonal predictability.

As I write, the calendar says it is March 11, still eight days out from the official start of Spring. And then another 90 days until the official start of Summer.

The high temps here in the Valley of the Sun vary dramatically in Spring, with some days in the 60s, then the 70s. The Weather Channel is forecasting highs in the 80s next week.

For the thousands of people we serve in a week, this means that the sun will be bright, the clouds will be scarce, and vulnerability to heat related illness will sneak up on everyone. This is why we are starting to talk about Thirst Aid earlier and earlier every year.

Thirst Aid is the collective effort at the Key Campus to provide sufficient water and heat relief items to those we serve. Last year more than 100,000 bottles of water were needed monthly. If you are interested in supporting Thirst Aid to benefit all 15 partner organizations and the humans we serve daily, please plan now and reach out to set up a collection drive. Details are here: hsc-az.org/thirstaid/

As proud members of Arizona Impact for Good, we are counting down to this year’s Arizona Gives Day (April 2). The focus of our fundraising effort that day will be Thirst Aid. And, for anyone who likes to work ahead, early giving donations begin March 12 at AZGives.org

March seems to be the month that people wake up, it’s busy! The winter and holiday slumber is over. Hibernation is ending. The hours of daylight start to extend bringing energy and movement. Baseball fans seek out Spring training games and countdown to Opening Day. Some of you may do Spring cleaning…. I have it on my to-do list, which is probably where it will stay! For me Spring is about reorganizing and strategizing for how to put the best efforts of Keys to Change toward functional zero on homelessness.

After spending several days with colleagues from across the country at last week’s National Alliance to End Homelessness conference, there are new ideas, affirmation of what works, and calls to action. A few key take-aways that will stick with me:

  1. Homelessness is solvable. And we need to broadcast that message broadly, loudly, with conviction, and above the fray of the nay-sayers. The cavalry isn’t coming to save us, we are the cavalry.
  2. Participation from people with lived experience of homelessness is absolutely critical. Inviting people with lived experience has to be more than tokenism. We need to authentically and openly include those who have been unhoused and unsheltered in all areas of the work that we do, whether on the front lines for systems-level change. Once they are included, we need to listen. Listen, listen, listen.
  3. Courage, increased risk, and overcoming fear are required of leaders, decision-makers, and elected officials. When fear freezes action, nothing is done. And when nothing is done, we continue to manage homelessness rather than act upon strategies to end it.

To hear more about thoughts from the conference, watch the newest episode of McQuaid Mission on It Happens at STN (stntv.com)

It’s the season of action. Pick one thing that works toward reducing and ending homelessness, and do it!

About Keys to Change and Key Campus

Keys to Change (formerly HSC, Inc.) is the overarching organization that owns and manages Key Campus (formerly Human Services Campus) where 15 independent nonprofit organizations power a collaborative force united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, Key Campus sees more than 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness. Keys to Change is a compassionate connector and strategic partner in a leadership role working to end homelessness. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.

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